Main Character Syndrome.  

(an essay on self-centeredness) 

1 | The Problem  

“Some days I feel like the main character that I am.” 

The camera zooms out on Patrick, wearing a pink polo shirt. He nods at the producer’s prompting. 

“Exactly. A protagonist, the center of my story.” 

Next to his profile, a video of his Instagram reels slides up on screen. 

“The stats are booming, our SEO results are up, and the comments are full of love. It just—feels meant to be, you know? Like I was built for the spotlight, built to be adored.” 

“Patrick Staffengreen has been a professional influencer since he received a phone in the 7th grade,” a male announcer voice booms, “What will happen when the internet crashes and he loses his livelihood? Let’s find out!” 

Sorry, Hi, I’m Dimi. I got a little too end-of the world there, what with the entire internet crashing and all (very Gen Z of me, I know).  

Don’t feel too deeply about Patrick, he doesn’t know any better, and… he was invented purely for this. Okay, here’s a truth: Patrick is actually me, how I feel sometimes, or how I would imagine I would feel if I had SEO results and a phone with Instagram in the 7th grade. 

Spectacular, adored, loved, and most importantly fulfilled. 

My dialogue ends at, “the center of my story,” and continues, “The problem is when I start to believe my story is the story, the world’s entire story.”  

Because, yeah, there is kinda, sorta a huge problem with that inflated amount of self-love. Patrick sees it differently. He has a case of what I like to call, main character syndrome. 

What is Main Character Syndrome? 

“When someone feels forced to be the main character, or they always wants to be the main character, even when it doesn’t obviously fit. [Spoiler] That was the whole point of Percy Jackson. He was like, ‘I’m the hero’, and then Dang! They ripped it away.” 

  • Peach, 52, fake crocheter 

“In my opinion it’s really just a nicer word for a serious narcissist.” 

  •  Rebekah, 16-ish, having a crisis 

“Kinda like a viewing of yourself where you see yourself as important and the main character. Stuff happens to you to “further your story,” I guess.” 

  • Izzy, 18, college student 

“Main Character Syndrome is a symptom of pride and gateway drug to narcissism. It’s dangerous. Like mojo.” 

  • Dimi Jordan, perfectly aged, blogger 

These opinions do or endorse or necessarily reflect my opinions. Participants are not compensated and voluntarily choose to respectfully share their opinions.

There’s this great passage from a Neal Shusterman book, Game Changer (CW: ), and while I don’t agree with the whole book, I related to this more than anything I had read all year, probably in years. 

The center of the universe. I suppose we all imagine ourselves in that position. Even though most of us know we’re not, we can’t help but feel, on some subconscious level, that we are. When we’re babies we can’t tell the difference between the world and ourselves. The whole of creation is just a part of us; just another uncooperative dependence to go along with our legs that can’t walk, and hands that can barely grasp. Then, as we’re learning to walk and talk, we recognize the forwardness of things outside of our bodies, but still feel that we’re at the center of it all. Some of us never grow past that, but most of us do move on to adulthood. Once we’re adults, we’ve learned to pretend that we don’t think we’re the center of the universe. But deep down a part of us will always believe that we are. If you need proof, look at all the people who buy lottery tickets enter sweepstakes or go to Las Vegas. People who believe fortunes will fall their way in spite of all logic and proven mathematical odds, because when you secretly drink near the center of the universe, you feel outrageously lucky.

Shusterman, N. (2021). Chapter 9 . In Game Changer. essay, Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Ever felt that way? This was one of those moments when an author pulled words from my brain that I didn’t know yet, translating my garbled just-under-consciousness feelings into English. He vocalized a feeling I realized I felt astronomically often, every day at many intervals. 

Reality is, we all struggle with self-centeredness—a quality written into our flawed nature—it’s hard to step into someone else’s shoes when you can’t actually do so. Our stories are each just one sub-compartment of God’s story, His story.  


Cheesy, but true. It’s not cheesy, it just makes me feel uncomfortable that I’m not the center of the world and have no feasible way of becoming so.  

A prideful part of me feels that I’m so spectacular (an undiscovered treasure), that there should at least be a way for me and people like me to work towards the position of attention. To get close to the goal of being the recipient of all fame when really, it’s just not possible. 

I don’t like being told things are impossible. In my experience, things that are truly impossible are by nature bad. For a goal to be impossible to accomplish, there must be some inherent sin factor in it, because if not—I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. 

So, the fact that no one can be the center of the world and still live in righteousness means that it is both unattainable and unattractive, because God won’t help you get there. 

Don’t get me wrong, you can be the center of somebody’s world. A company, a cult, a friend group or a family even. Those things won’t be good, but they will function as successful illusions. Until they crash. You just can’t be the center of the world. The good one, at least, which is His world. 

The problem: I love myself more than God and it’s not working perfectly. If I can’t work for the right kind of attention, then what’s the point?  

The answer: Check back next week for part ii…

Main Character Syndrome (Part II) 

Whose world did you or do you want to be the center of? Whose idol did you want to be, if any?

Other kids? Your family? Yourself? Share with us in the comments!

(Notice the past tense, to acknowledge you’re actively growing from it? Or not? Okay…)

2 responses to “Main Character Syndrome.  ”

  1. I think you hit the problem of sin right on the nail. The struggle of being the center versus giving room to the one who made that center possible! It’s a life long battle because even when we’ve wrestled down one area, our flesh tends to rise up in another. Hence, relationship with the CENTER!

    1. Thank you!
      Yes, I agree. It’s quite exciting to know we can speak with the actual center of the universe.

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